How about that. Well, here's my take as a long-time gamer with more than a little nostalgia for 'the old days'.
Of course that article talked about extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivation (something my own ethical studies have familiarized me with already), and that's an interesting take on the issue; but what concerns me more is the implications of Achievements on game design.
Here's an example: a very common achievement type in many games takes this rough form:
[VERB] [NUMBER] [NOUN] with [NOUN]
So, "Kill 100 Enemies With The Knife", for instance, or "Win 10 Races With The Red Wagon". Now, I'm not getting into the idea that these are all necessarily dull, repetitive tasks; in some cases, these Achievements are things the player might be likely to do in the normal course of gameplay without even noticing it.
My point here is that achievements of this sort, which take an imperative form, are not only extrinsic motivation, they're intrinsic instruction as well; they are to player behavior in ordinary gameplay what explicit tutorials are to the player learning process. That is, they take the player outside the action of the game in order to give him information relevant inside it, which by its nature destroys suspension of disbelief and immersion. And the frustrating thing is, most of these behaviors can be encouraged invisibly through game design. Take the Metal Gear Solid series as an example: in the later games, the player is provided with a weak tranquilizer gun that can be used to incapacitate most enemies without killing them. It is slower and less effective in the short term than later weapons, but by using it the player avoids certain snarky comments from Snake's (or Raiden's) operators on the Codec, achieves a greater degree of stealth (making overall gameplay easier at the expense of greater difficulty in some individual encounters), and in some cases gains in-story benefits as well. By integrating a goal that is numeric and repetitive (Defeat X Enemies With The Tranquilizer Gun) with basic gameplay elements, the designers modified player behavior in a non-compulsory way, and without destroying immersion.
How does this relate to the success/failure of XBox's Achievement system? By forcing its use on every game it hosts, it essentially forces a bad design element on developers, lowering the quality of the players' experience and reinforcing bad techniques on an industry that is suffering horribly under them already.